Having a learning disability is exhausting. Whether your child has ADHD, or a Nonverbal Learning Disability, or a Language Based Learning Disability, or Asperger Syndrome does not matter. Learning differently from the way school is taught is hard work.

In order to obtain proper educational services for a child, one must define the difference or deficit. The child needs to fail to make progress in order to qualify for services. This is simply how the law is written, but it means that a smart child often has to experience frustration and failure before appropriate services are put into place. Even if the services are helpful, their delivery distinguishes the child from other learners — the child has to leave the room for support in reading or math, or a special teacher comes in. It is a situation that can grind down self esteem.

What to do? Where are you child’s strengths? Perhaps you have some excellent teachers in your school who know where your child has particular talent. Perhaps you know and can encourage her to take a chance on a non-academic pursuit. These are the parts of life that teachers and parents can encourage so that the child feels competent, even gifted.

I once knew an art teacher who had a depressed teenager with nonverbal learning disability in her class. She raved about his skill and originality. His parents had no clue. The boy had been so down on himself that he denigrated everything he did, including his drawing. With the teacher’s encouragement he took some drawing classes and produced some fine work. It helped turn his life around.

Another student I knew who had nonverbal learning disability was on the chunky side. His parents wanted him to play sports to get exercise and to practice social skills, but his poor coordination made it impossible for him to enjoy any sport with a ball. His Dad got him involved on a swim team where he excelled. He was on a team, but he was swimming to beat his own time. The swimming also helped with his anxiety.

These are just two stories. There are more. There are kids who are writing wonderful poems, often about their challenges. Others I know are on speech or debate teams. The precise logic involved in those activities fits their thinking well. Playing guitar or any other musical instrument can provide calming comfort. Other children I know excel at archery.

It is as important to find activities in which your child excels as it is to provide tutors and social skills groups.

Author's Bio: 

Parent Coach and Licensed Psychologist, Carolyn Stone, Ed.D. (www.drcarolynstone.com) educates parents of children with learning disabilities, ADHD, Asperger Syndrome and anxiety about their children’s needs using humor and evidence-based practices. Parents learn new strategies through role play and homework. She teaches children to manage their anxiety and attention and to understand their learning styles. You can learn about Dr. Stone’s work from her blog at http://www.drcarolynstone.com/blog/.